Patriots Survive Against Pirates
Two goals by speedy senior Kristen Phelps helped extend an undefeated conference record for the Pinecrest girls’ soccer team as it held off a determined band of Lumberton Pirates by a score of 3-0 Wednesday night at John Williams Field.
The local girls are now 6-0-0 in Southeastern Conference play.
The visitors (8-4-2 overall, 4-2-0 conference) played with an intensity that their coach Kenny Simmons felt was lacking during an 8-0 loss to the Patriots in Lumberton.
“I couldn’t ask any more from our team tonight defensively,” said Simmons. “We were just embarrassed when we played them at home, and we knew we had to come over here and give just a tremendous defensive effort and try to stay in the game. And that’s what we did. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t put more passes together.
“You have to tip your hat to Pinecrest because they’re such a good team.”
Phelps broke into the scoring column at the 20-minute mark of the first half as she guided a rebounded shot in past the Pirate goalkeeper from long distance. With only this slim one-goal cushion at halftime, Phelps kept up the assault in the final 40 minutes, finding the upper-left corner in the 69th minute.
Antonia Meyers effectively closed the door on Lumberton with three minutes remaining in the game, accepting an assist from Megan Thomas that she maneuvered around a defender at the mouth of the goal for the final score.
Phelps’ play helped break a scoring slump of sorts that has weighed heavily on the hard-working forward.
“It was so important for me to play with composure and finish some goals tonight,” she explained, “and play with instinct rather than ‘thinking about it’ so much. I feel a lot of pressure since this is my last year playing up top, and I feel the need to score goals because I don’t want to let my team down.
“My teammates are very good on their own and capable of producing goals, but of course I want to do my part, since it’s a team effort. Hopefully I broke my ‘curse’ tonight.”
Pinecrest coach Ray Blatz reminded his team that their goal is to always out-possess their opponents.
“We definitely had more possessions, but we still struggled with converting scoring opportunities throughout this match,” Blatz declared. “We had multiple chances, but Lumberton fought very hard.
“Our girls are beginning to understand that they cannot play to the style of our opponent, and we have to stay in, and be content with, our own style of game where we break teams down by possessing the ball.”
Blatz’s defenders successfully denied most of the Pirates’ attempts, an aspect of the game not lost on Simmons.
“Our game plan was to get the ball in behind them (Pinecrest) for scoring chances, but we struggled all night against their efforts,” he said. “We were either off-sides or we made good runs, but sent poor balls behind the targets.”
Abbey Crider held down the Patriot goalkeeping duties, while accumulating her 10th shutout. The Patriots, ranked seventh in the state (4-A) by Eurosport Scoreboard, are now 9-1-2 overall.
Piper Davis, Kaitlyn Carter, Alyssa Stroker and Kara Zoellner each had a goal as coach Evan Saleeby’s junior varsity team took a 4-1 victory over the Lumberton jayvees.
The next match for Pinecrest is scheduled for April 16, following the school’s spring break. Pinecrest will entertain both Scotland jayvee and varsity and then host the Purnell Swett varsity April 18.
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